Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 3/20/2015

Otter Tail County

Dear Friends,

Balanced consideration is important to maintaining the integrity of federal regulation. I spoke on the House floor this week in support of a measure that will help ensure the independence and transparency of EPA expert panel regulations. I also announced the allocation of funds that will assist farmers and ranchers in combatting wolf depredation. Representatives from the corn, cotton, and soybean industries were in Washington this week, where I welcomed their perspective on the impact of federal programs and proposed trade regulations. Finally, we celebrate National Ag Week by thanking producers for their continued efforts to nourish Minnesotans and people across the country.               



Congressman Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Science Advisory Board Reform Act

I spoke on the House floor Tuesday in support of the Science Advisory Board Reform Act (H.R. 1029). The Science Advisory Board’s work is important to making sure the EPA considers all scientific information when writing regulations that will impact American farmers, families and small businesses. Unfortunately, concerns have been raised about the current review process and lack of understanding about how things work in the real world. This legislation addresses those concerns and builds on the work done in the 2014 Farm Bill. This bill is necessary to ensure the EPA takes into account the best information possible, with input from the public and independent stakeholders.

Minnesota Peace and Police Officers

Paul Ford (President, Minnesota Peace and Police Officers)

This week I met with MMOA President Paul Ford, Executive Director Dennis Flaherty, and members of the Minnesota Police and Public Safety Officers Association during their visit to Washington to meet with the Minnesota Delegation. The MPPOA represents the fine members that work to keep Minnesota safe every day. We discussed funding for common sense policing programs, such as Regional Information Sharing Systems, and the COPS and Byrne-Jag programs. I appreciate the hard work these men and women do to keep Minnesotans safe day in and day out.

National Corn Growers Association      

Chris Novak (CEO, NCGA), Chip Bowling (President), Martin Barbre (Chairman)

I met with the Board of the National Corn Growers Association on Wednesday to discuss the outlook for action in Congress on issues of importance to their growers as well issues pending in federal agencies. We talked about the potential for Trade Promotion Authority in Congress, EPA’s long-delayed announcement on renewable volume requirements under the RFS, the potential for movement on waterways and highway funding, and farm bill implementation.

Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association

On Wednesday, I met with Mark Baker, President of Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association. Mark is a native Minnesotan with a passion for general aviation, and we discussed the importance of maintaining access to the transportation network especially in areas with some of these smaller airports that are necessary for the community and local businesses. As co-chair of the House Pilots Caucus, this will be one of my priorities as Congress considers the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization this spring.

University of Minnesota, Crookston

I had the pleasure of meeting Chancellor Fred Wood of the University of Minnesota-Crookston this week. We had a great discussion on the current state of the school and its goals. It is a pleasure seeing Crookston develop into a school that attracts students from across the globe. I commend Chancellor Wood and his administration for growing U of M Crookston into a great institution that continues to serve the needs of the students of Minnesota.

New National Cotton Council Chairman

Mr. Sledge Taylor, the newly installed chairman of the National Cotton Council from Como, Mississippi, came by my office on Tuesday. Cotton farmers face unique challenges and choices in the new farm bill programs and it was good to hear Mr. Taylor’s perspective on those issues.

Minnesota Soybean Growers Association

Lance Peterson (UNDERWOOD), Paul Freeman (STARBUCK), Dan Brandt (Eyota), George Goblish (President, VESTA), Theresa Gillie (HALLOCK), Joel Schreurs (TYLER)

Several representatives of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association came to my DC office this week. We discussed the possible outcomes of trade negotiations and deals currently under consideration. They also shared their experiences with the new farm bill programs.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission

On Wednesday, I met with Commodity Futures Trading Commission Commissioners Sharon Bowen and Chris Giancarlo to discuss our priorities for the coming year. The Agriculture Committee is charged with oversight of the CFTC and we will again take up legislation to reauthorize the CFTC this Congress. I will continue working to ensure that the marketplace is fair for all participants.

Ag Committee Trade Hearing

On Wednesday, the Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the importance of trade to U.S. Agriculture. We all understand how important trade is to agriculture; increasing market access and expanding export opportunities is always a good thing. During the hearing, however, I expressed my concern with Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership. I’m worried that we could find ourselves with similar problems to what we’ve seen under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For example, Canadian dairy coops are now some of the largest owners of dairy processing in the United States, while our famers are unable to access the Canadian market. During the hearing, I raised a number of the issues that I believe need to get fixed before we should move ahead with a new trade deal.

Windom Farm and Home Show

The annual Windom Farm and Home Show was held last Saturday at the Windom Area High School. The show featured a variety of displays, live entertainment, and educational gardening, estate planning, and solar energy seminars. I was happy to see vendors from agriculture, home, health, and business entities connecting with the more than 1,000 community participants.  I took part in the political forum moderated by Minnesota Farm Bureau Public Policy Director Doug Busselman and provided an update from Washington with respect to various agriculture and business issues.

Special Olympics Minnesota

Michael Kane (Vice President, Area Programs and Initiatives), Emily Dierberger (Sports Program Manager), Abby Hirsch (Athlete, Wayzata)

On Wednesday, my staff aide Natalie Winters sat down with Special Olympics Minnesota to discuss how the organization empowers 1,500 athletes in the 7th District. Congress is expected to consider authorization of the Special Olympics Sport and Empowerment Act in this session. Last year, Abby Hirsch (age 21) was selected to represent the Minnesota delegation in swimming events in the 2014 USA Games in New Jersey, and she brought home multiple medals. She also spoke passionately about the role this organization has played in her life, not just as an athlete but in developing greater confidence and public speaking skills. Abby credits more than 13 years with this organization as empowering her to give the commencement speech at her high school graduation in front of 3,000 people.

UofM Family Development

Trina Adler Barno with the University of Minnesota’s Extension Center for Family Development met with staff aid Rebekah Solem to talk about the success of the health and nutrition education programs operated through the county extension offices.

NAFSA International Educators

Thomas Gjersvig (Director, MSUM International Students and Scholar Services), Sage Larson, Michaela Read, Shan Lu (Assistant Director, Concordia Intercultural Affairs/Global Learning)

On Thursday, my staff aide Natalie Winters met with Concordia College (MOORHEAD) students and faculty to discuss issues important to international educators and their students. In this increasingly globalized world, we need to make sure young people have access to the tools that will help prepare them to better serve our communities at home and represent us abroad.

National Ag Day

Patrick Fahey (Belle Plain), Olivia Kendall (Jordan), Marie Annexstad (Saint Peter), Brady Wulf (STARBUCK)

Student leaders from Minnesota visited my Washington office on National Ag Day, March 18th, to share the importance of American agriculture.  These young advocates talked about their personal experiences with agriculture and ag education and noted how agriculture affects everyone, not just people who live on farms.  I applaud these students for their leadership in educating others about the contributions of agriculture and for sharing their passion for agriculture.

Thielen Bus Lines

On Wednesday, my staff aide Natalie Winters met with Richard Thielen, owner of Thielen Bus Lines (REDWOOD FALLS). They discussed upcoming transportation issues facing the industry, including a long-term surface transportation funding bill and the annual appropriations for the Department of Transportation.

National Association of Postmasters

This week, staff aide Richard Lee met with the National Association of Postmasters of the United States, to discuss concerns facing the United States Postal Service. The USPS has been facing these problems for far too long, and it is time for Congress to work together and pass legislation to enable the postal service to make the changes needed to operate a sustainable business model. I will continue to champion the universal service standards the USPS strives to uphold, and protect rural post offices as they are a lifeline to much of rural America.

Minnesota Respiratory Therapists

In Minnesota, there are an estimated 618,217 patients who suffer from lung disease. On Wednesday, my staff aide Natalie Winters discussed issues impacting their treatment with respiratory therapists from Minnesota; including the work we can do here in Congress to increase access to quality, affordable health care in our state.

Machinists and Aerospace Workers

Nicholas Brais (IL), William Jessen (IN), Jeremy Pearson (Local Lodge 2525, SABIN)

Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers met with staff aide Chris Iacaruso to discuss the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Act and the ongoing Tran-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal negotiations. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.

Active and Retired Federal Employees

Rick Ziton (St. Paul), Meg and John Schmidt (FERGUS FALLS), Scott Halsteed (Shoreview)

Members of the NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) met with my staff aide Chris Iacaruso to discuss issues of concern to retired and current federal employees. They discussed staffing levels necessary for an effective federal workforce.

Minnesota Small Business Development

Tuesday, members of the Minnesota Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) visited with staff aide Chris Iacaruso. SBDC helps entrepreneurs start and grow businesses that succeed. They work one-on-one with businesses to identify, understand and overcome the challenges of starting and running a successful business by working in three primary areas: professional business consulting, access to capital, and training. The group asked for my support for Small Business Administration (SBA) funding and legislation that will help reorganize the SBCA programs within the SBA.

MN Association of Community Health Centers

On Wednesday, my staff aide Natalie Winters met with Kristi Halvarson, CEO of the Community Health Services (MOORHEAD) which serves 18,000 patients. They talked about how many of their mobile units help provide care at churches and community centers across rural areas like the 7th. This kind of collaborative care is imperative for so many folks who would otherwise not have access to a primary care doctor or dentist.

Minnesota Power

My Staff Aide Zach Martin met with Executive Vice President David McMillan and Director of Government Affairs Bill Libro to discuss the Great Northern Transmission Line. This energy transmission project connects the Manitoba Hydro and Minnesota Power electric systems to rural communities throughout northern Minnesota with about 220 miles of transmission line. Minnesotans living in rural areas need access to affordable energy, and I will monitor this project as it goes through state and federal review processes.

Otter Tail Power

The proposed Clean Power Plan by the Environmental Protection Agency is beginning to have profound effects on energy providers. My staff aide Zach Martin met with Otter Tail Power’s Director of Congressional Affairs, Loren Laugtug, to talk about options for complying with aggressive EPA regulations. I am concerned that the costs of these regulations will end up being paid for by consumers who depend on low-cost energy to keep their houses warm during the winter months.

West Central Economic Development Professionals

Rob Fuglie (Nots! Snacks), David Lysaker (Collaps-a-Tow), Melissa Kjolsing (Executive Director, Minnesota Cup), Dale Umlauf (West Central Initiative)

On Thursday, my Senior Economic Development Officer Toni Merdan, attended the West Central Economic Development Professionals Meeting held quarterly at the West Central Initiative in Fergus Falls.  Economic Development Professionals from across the nine county region come together to discuss and learn about topics relating to community and economic development. Sheila Smith of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts also presented on the launch of their recent comprehensive report on the importance of the arts on the economy. A panel of presenters also provided information on the Minnesota Cup, a state-wide business plan competition that has been assisting entrepreneurs for the past ten years.

Perham Minnesota Economic Development Authority

On Tuesday, the Perham Minnesota Economic Development Authority held their annual meeting.  EDA Director Chuck Johnson, pictured above, indicated there was $4.3 million in residential construction in Perham and $15 million in commercial/industrial projects.  For 2015 the work will continue in all sectors.   Many of the businesses in town provided updated information on their expansion plans and 2015 construction projects.  The City Manager gave an overview of the city's projects for the year, including road work, remodeling at the library and a new city garage. Extension Educator Ryan Pesch with the U of M Extension Service provided information on a recent survey of the impact that second homeowners have on nearby communities, focusing on Otter Tail County. 

Fergus Falls Business Summit

On Wednesday, the Fergus Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Improvement Commission held their annual Business Summit at the Bigwood Event Center.  The summit included a meet and greet and networking hour for business professionals, a luncheon. Guest speakers included Michele Anderson, Rural Program Director for Springboard for the Arts; Larry Schulz, CEO of Lake Region Healthcare; and GL Ticker, Dean of Customized Training Services at M State. Andi Egbert, the Assistant Director of the Minnesota State Demographic Center, concluded the session with a presentation about state and local population trends.    

East Diversion Flood Control Project

On Thursday, my aide Allison Myhre traveled to Roseau for an update from Mayor Jeff Pelowski on the progress of the East Diversion Flood Control Project. Excavation work has been completed and final grading and seeding of the diversion channel is planned to be completed this summer. Construction on the restriction structure that will push high water from the Roseau River into the diversion channel continues and would be operational in the event of a major flood this spring or summer. The diversion project is scheduled for completion by September of 2015. Allison also heard from the mayor on new housing projects that are underway in the community.

Legislative Update

Wolf Depridation Funds

On Wednesday I announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state of Minnesota have agreed to provide $220,000 for wolf management activities in Minnesota. This is welcome news for farmers and ranchers who currently don’t have a way to stop wolves that are threatening their livestock. I’m pleased to see the state and USDA come together to address this issue. I’ll continue to work in Congress to find a long-term solution to return gray wolf management back to Minnesota.


National Ag Week

Communities across the nation are participating in National Ag Week celebrations to honor the worldwide contributions of the agriculture industry. Agriculture is an important economic engine in the United States, and at its core are Minnesota producers. This week is dedicated to recognizing their commitment to ensuring quality agricultural products and services. 

Discovering the 7th

The Darwin Museum is home to the largest ball of twine made by one man. Weighing 8.7 tons, the ball was wound over a twenty-nine year period by Francis Johnson, son of U.S. Congressman Magnus Johnson. Every second Saturday in August, the community celebrates Twine Ball Day by welcoming thousands of visitors interested in viewing the ball. The museum also displays numerous donated items, including baseball memorabilia honoring Darwin-native MLB players Fred “Lefty” Miller and Milt Goemer.  

This Week in American History

United States Military Academy, 1874

The United States Military Academy, the first military school in the United States, was founded by Congress in West Point, New York on March 16, 1802. Designed to educate and train students in military science, the academy known simply as “West Point” quickly became one of the country’s finest sources of civil engineers. Today, there are five U.S. service academies serving undergraduates and commissioned officers in each branch of the armed forces. As your 7th District Representative, I have the privilege of nominating a limited number of students to four of the five service academies. Additional information regarding military academy nominations, including eligibility requirements and frequently asked questions, is available on my website.

Visitors from the District

Patrick Fahey (Belle Plain), Marie Annexstad (Saint Peter), Olivia Kendall (Jordan), Brady Wulf (STARBUCK)

USS Barry (DD-933)
Washington Navy Yard